Movie 2: Nihao My Concubine

Starring (voice - English): Sarah Strange, Myriam Sirois and Mike Donovan
RRP: 19.99
MVD 2098
Certificate: PG
Available 05 December 2005

Following a rather foolish choice to take a yacht out on its maiden voyage, the gang are stranded on a desert island. Things seem to be going well until Kusumi disappears. Soon a number of the other girls are also gone, each leaving behind only a peach (really, don't ask. Just go with it), each of which looks a little more like buttocks than you'd like. It seems that the girls have been kidnapped by a prince looking for his perfect bride. After an encounter with the prince, Ranma in his female form, heads off to the rescue. But not all goes to plan...

Based on the original manga by Rumiko Takahashi, Nihao My Concubine is a 1994 offshoot of the very long running show. The film continues with the usual blend of martial arts and large breasted teenagers. If you've not come across this anime, things can get confusing very quickly. Biggest problem is that Ranma and his father are cursed and, when in contact with water, undergo certain changes. Ranma changes from a boy to a girl and his father turns into a giant panda. Best just to go with the flow really.

The narrative is both peculiar and amusing. The final half of the film, showing the brides competing to be the next princess, includes combat flower arranging. Of course, Ranma has his own agenda; it seems that the prince possesses a gourd full of water that will let Ranma remain a male for good. But will he be able to bring him/herself to destroy the spring, from which the water originates, for the love of Akane, the object of his hearts desire. Far be it for me to say that you could have seen the ending coming a light year away.

On the down side the fight scenes are not only overly reminiscent of console games, but quickly become repetitive. The film itself is less than an hour long, so if you're buying it as a fan of the show then you're not going to be really bothered, otherwise you have to question whether such a short feature represents value for money. It would have been better if they had included two of the many Ranma feature films, or something substantial in the extras. The feature itself feels more like a summer special that a full blown film.

Language set-up is restricted to English or Japanese stereo with the added option of subtitles. On the extras front there are seventeen character biographies, well worth a look if this is your first foray into the wacky world of Ranma - it may save some confusion when you're watching the main feature. There are fifteen pages of less interesting conceptual art, which is a watch once option, as well as the usual bunch of trailers.

So, not bad, just a little too short, making the disc feels a bit of a lightweight. One for the fans really.

Charles Packer

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